The Film:
Interview Transcripts

The greatest challenge in producing Safe Harbor was holding the script to 56:46 minutes.  As we explored the subjects of slavery, anti-slavery and the Underground Railroad we consulted more than a dozen scholars.  Their interviews revealed fascinating stories and bold new insights, but, on television, each one had to be reduced to the proverbial “sound bite.”  Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and WQLN, you can read their interviews here.

Charles Blockson, Underground Railroad historian, Temple University, on

his personal journey
slave revolts
slavery and the Liberty Bell
Pennsylvania’s Underground Railroad
children and the Underground Railroad
preserving Underground Railroad sites


James Oliver Horton, Ph.D., historian, George Washington University on
the economic impact of slavery
the role of free blacks
inter-racial alliances
the decision to escape
importance of Western Pennsylvania
John Brown
black patriotism



Loren Schweninger, Ph.D., Professor of History,
University of North Carolina at Greensboro, on

The Race and Slavery Petitions Project
rebels on the plantation
obstacles and heart-wrenching decisions
three groups of free blacks
dramatic slave escapes
slavery’s long shadow


John Burt, JD, Pittsburgh historian on
the confluence of three rivers
the second great awakening
Pittsburgh’s cast of characters
the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850
government by the people



John Ford, historian and school programs director,
Sen. John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, on
Martin Delaney and Charles Avery
Pittsburgh’s black population
communication within the African-American community
dialogue between the races
proving Vasco da Gama wrong



Karen James, historian,
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, on

ordinary people
the legacy of Hamilton Waters
role of black sailors



LeRoy T. Hopkins, Ph.D., Underground Railroad historian,
Millersville University, on

separating fact from fiction
Pennsylvania’s gradual abolition act
role of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
doing what’s right


Greg Wilson, Underground Railroad historian and Miller descendant on

the power of religious conviction
risks and rewards


Captain Walter Rybka, Senior Captain, U.S. Brig Niagara,
Program Director, Erie Maritime Museum, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, on
equal work for equal pay
common bonds


David Frew, Ph.D., maritime author and executive director,
Erie County Historical Society and Museums
, on

navigating the Great Lakes
canals and towpaths
conflict on the bayfront
finding safe harbor



Diane Miller, coordinator, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, National Park Service, on

the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
documenting Underground Railroad stories
freedom and the quest for human rights



Raymond Dobard, Ph.D., professor of art and art history,
Howard University, on

quilts and the Underground Railroad
the importance of oral history
hidden meanings in spirituals


Jean Snyder, Ph.D., Burleigh Scholar, Edinboro University, on

Hamilton Waters
the music of Harry T. Burleigh